18.1c South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO)
South West Africa was under the German Protectorate in 1884. However in 1915, it was occupied by the Union of South Africa. After the First World War the League of Nations ordered that South West Africa should be governed as a Mandate territory by the Union of South Africa. After the Second World War, though it was directed to place South West Africa under the U.N. Trusteeship Council, the Union of South Africa defaulted. The Union of South Africa persisted in administer the territory in spite of the various resolutions of the United Nations. In 1968, South West Africa was renamed ‘Namibia’ by the U.N. Security Council.
Although the United Nations continuously insisted of the government of South Africa to give up its control of Namibia, it refused to do so. The South African government continued to exploit the natural resources of Namibia. Not only that, it also exercised the despicable practice of apartheid (racial discrimination). Moreover, agitations staged by the Namibian people were ruthlessly crushed by the South African government.
At this time, the people of Namibia felt that an influential movement needs to be initiated, by which it would be possible to attain independence. Therefore, a militant body known as the South West African People’s Organization was established on April 19, 1960. SWAPO soon turned into an important platform for the struggle for the independence of Namibia. More than anything, even the International Court of Justice invalidated the claim of South Africa to Namibia in 1972.
An important development occurred in 1976, when the U.N. General Assembly recognized SWAPO as the only authentic representative of the Namibian people. This was followed by SWAPO and the UN working together for the independence of the Namibian people. Namibia declared itself independence on 21 March, 1990.
(ii) Constituent Institutions
SWAPO consists of four main organs:
The Congress: which formulates the policies of the organization.
It can even amend the Constitution. A regular session is held
by it every five years.
The Central Committee: is in charge of considering,
discussing, amending and adopting the decisions of the Political
The Political Bureau: Its main function is to implement
the decisions of the Congress and the Central Committee.
The main objectives of SWAPO when it came into existence
The encouragement of national consciousness and resistance
of reactionary tendencies of individualism, tribalism, regionalism
The furthering of national and political unity.
Complete emancipation of Namibia (which was finally accomplished.)
The establishment of a democratic and secular state in Namibia.
The co-operation with other governments, the United Nations
and other organizations for the liberation of the African continent.
The advancement of world peace and prosperity.
In 1966, the Namibians formed a faction of guerrilla fighters called the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) to combat the oppression of the South African government. It was the military wing of the SWAPO. Eventually South Africa was compelled to begin talks of negotiation with SWAPO; other countries of the world had begun to exercise economic segregation over it. Finally, discriminatory laws were abolished and South Africa accepted the proposition of establishing a Constituent Assembly for Namibia. It gained its independence on March 21, 1990 and had its own Constitution. Its first President was Mr. Sam Nujamo of the SWAPO party.
18.1 Regional Organizations
18.2 International Organizations
b. The Commonwealth
18.3 Dates & Events